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AUB Saves Man, 37, in 1st Artificial Heart Implant in Lebanon

An AUB medical team successfully performed the first "artificial heart" implant in Lebanon, thus saving the life of a 37-year-old man suffering from terminal heart failure, the AUB said in a statement issued on Thursday.
It said the six-hour operation led by two AUB doctors took place at the American University of Beirut Medical Center Aug. 28.
AUB deemed the operation "successful" as the patient survived the first critical 72 hours, showing improvements in all his vital signs.

The "artificial heart" implant operation involves the insertion of a device called a Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD) that takes over the functions of the left ventricle of the heart, the dominant chamber which is responsible for pumping oxygenated blood via the aorta to the rest of the body.

"The operation was a huge success as it was this patient's last chance at life." said Dr. Pierre Sfeir, the AUBMC surgeon who conducted the operation.

"His vital organs are functioning normally and the new device implant is pumping blood properly," added Dr. Hadi Skouri, the AUBMC cardiologist who has been treating the patient and a specialist on heart failure and transplantation.

The LVAD used in this surgery is called Heartmate II. It is manufactured by the U.S. medical technology company, Thoratec.

The two AUB doctors were assisted by a multidisciplinary medical team, including the leading expert on LVAD operations, Dr. Latif Arusoglu, a German surgeon, as well as a clinical specialist, both dispatched by Thoratec.

"90 percent of all cardiac failures are the result of left ventricular failure," explained Dr. Skouri.

"The aim of implanting such devices is to preserve life, restore blood circulation and provide optimal blood supply to all vital organs and thus normalizing organ function," he added.

Of course, not all patients are eligible for this ultra-expensive and complicated surgery, noted the doctors. "If the patient suffers from other serious chronic diseases, we cannot operate on him/her," said Dr. Sfeir, who also heads the division of cardio-thoracic surgery at AUBMC.

Dr. Samir Alam, who heads the cardiology division, also stressed the fact that LVADs are a "last-resort treatment"

"Although we are very excited to offer this new procedure to our patients, we cannot stress enough the complexity of this surgery and the fact that not all cardiac patients are eligible for this implant," he noted.

The 37-year-old man who was operated on at AUBMC fulfilled all the criteria.

Recovering in the special care unit, the patient, a father of four, was all smiles and energy on Day 3 after the surgery, despite all the tubes connected to him.

"I am very, very happy," he said, and very grateful for the AUB team—especially my cardiologist—that took care of me, staying up for several nights to make sure I am doing well."

An employee at Byblos Bank, the recovering patient expressed his deep gratitude for his employer who covered the cost of the operation.